In her new novel Fledgling, Octavia Butler has turned tradition on its head by presenting a black female as a vampire. Genetically modified to be able to stay awake during the day, Shori Matthews is in a race to regain her memory before her community of vampires is destroyed. On the way, she creates her own community of humans called symbionts, a very model of group marriage. Think Interview with a Vampire meets The Ethical Slut.
Indeed, Shori’s amnesia allows Butler to deal with the problem of memory and tradition, how we can create the new while maintaining the old. While Fledging is a departure from the political musings found in Parable of the Sower and Talents, Butler’s trademark ability to place past, present and future in the same place is on display. The author’s creative powers are in full bloom, as she still has the abilities to pile darkness upon the reader, only to allow the final light of self-discovery.